Saturday, 22 June 2019

A Fall in Vaccinations, but are anti-vaxxers the villains?

It seems that anti-vaxxers are the next target for tech giant censorship, alongside governments proposing mandatory vaccinations.

But a conversation on last week's BBC Question Time had me thinking. The question was should Vaccinations he mandatory. A Muslim lady in the audience made an interesting point.

She was a health worker and she said her job persuading parents to vaccinate their children was difficult because it wasn't clear if they were allowed under Sharia.

I do wonder if religious ideology will be allowed as an exception from mandatory vaccinations? After all, we know that the religion of peace gets everything it asks for, such is it's protected status.

It's all well and good making anti-vaxxers the villains, but if you are going to allow a growing section of the population to opt out of Vaccinations for religious grounds, you risk the rise of the very diseases that vaccinations are supposed to prevent.

Friday, 21 June 2019

There Will be No Brexit After all.

One thing the Tory leadership contest has brought out, is that there is no stomach for no deal Brexit. All the candidates, including Boris would prefer to continue with May's withdrawal agreement. The only difference is whether it's with or without the N.I. backstop, or whether they go back to the EU for some slight modification.

Not one candidate came out in favour of no deal above anything else.

Even Boris, the arch Brexiteer has pushed May's BRINO deal (sans backstop) as a viable option, but wants to exit on WTO terms on the 31st of October if a deal can't be agreed with the EU and Parliament.

You can't make it up... we were told in no uncertain terms before the referendum several times by several people that a vote for leave meant leaving the EU, leaving the Customs Union, leaving the Single Market and leaving the ECJ.

It's quite clear that no-one in Parliament agrees. The spineless shitbags that were in power back in 2016 Cameron, Osborne, Clegg et al have all left after failing to scare us into remaining.

We are now left with another bigger cabal of spineless shitbags who want to cling to the EU come what may despite the democratic mandate the people provided in 2016.

Where oh where is the true blue no-deal Brexiteer?

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Is an EU Deal Good for the UK? The Fallacy of the Benevolent EU.

Remainers without fail cast the EU in a benign light. Without them the UK would fail. They have our interests at heart and will fight tooth and nail for the UKs corner within the EU.

But is that true?

The litmus test is whether EU political activity benefits the UK or not. After all, if the EU is so benign and working for ALL of it's citizens, the UK should benefit just like the rest of the European Union countries. There should be no favouring one country over another.

The evidence appears to suggest the EU is not benign and is in fact malicious.

Take the UK car industry as an example.

BMW bought out Rover and then promptly ran it into the ground. In the end BMW sold off the majority of the company and kept the quirky, marketable Mini range. Mini has a token manufacturing facility in Oxford, but Minis are made all over the European union. You might be driving a Czech Mini rather than a Cowley-made one. Hardly creating jobs in the UK.

Nissan and Honda bought into the Thatcher-Era ethos of limiting industrial action and invested in production facilities in the UK. Setting up production in the UK allowed the Japanese manufacturers tariff-free access to the EU and limited the risk of any labour/Union disputes.

The EU has always hated this, wanting the admittedly limited production spread throughout Europe. This has happened and Nissans and Toyotas are made in Eastern Europe. Honda's very limited European presence really only supported the one factory in Swindon.

However, the EU's mis-management of diesel emissions standards, pressing on with ever tighter restrictions without regard for the limitations of technology and the costs involved brought us the dieselgate scandal.

Hundreds of thousands of owners across the EU bought supposedly cleaner, greener diesel engine cars. But manufacturers couldn't keep up with the pace of change of the emissions standards and so programmed the cars to detect when they were being tested and switch into test mode. That test mode was designed solely to pass the emissions regulations. Had the car been running with those parameters on the road, it would have run poorly. The manufacturers programmed an entirely different set of engine operating parameters for road use, which produced a better driving experience while at the same time massively increasing emissions produced by the engine.

So, when the dieselgate scandal broke, the credibility of "Green Diesels" was destroyed. Sales of Diesel vehicles crashed. Not only that, but the realisation that diesels are not green started a reversal of the tax benefits for diesel vehicles.

At the same time as Dieselgate, the EU was also signalling an ever-tightening restriction on air quality in towns and cities, again without any nod to reality. Those towns and cities have to very seriously look at banning fossil-fuelled vehicles or at the very least imposing expensive charges on those people.

As you can see, Dieselgate, the reduction in tax benefits and the imposition of charges in towns and cities has completely killed to demand for diesel powered vehicles.

At the same time, the EU started making noises about switching at first to Petrol-Electric Hybrid cars and then to fully electric. By something like 2040, which again pushes the boundaries of R&D.

So, not only are customers confused about the signals coming from the EU (basically the signal is wait until electric car technology has matured enough) but in the background, the EU have been doing deals which are not in the best interests of the UK.

I refer to the recent trade deal with Japan. Essentially the deal wipes away any tariffs negating the need to produce cars inside Europe. Honda, with low European sales and struggling to justify the Swindon plant has pulled out completely. The plant was only there to allow tariff-free access to EU markets. As soon as that barrier disappeared, so to did the Swindon plant's raison d'etre. Bye-Bye Honda and the thousands of associated jobs.

Nissan is having a tough time as well. Their small cars aren't doing so well against Korean competition, some of their Diesel engines are suffering failures and the Navara is suffering from chassis issues.

The Japanese trade deal meant they could keep production of the latest Qashqai back to Japan to keep the quality up (the Navara chassis issues are rumoured to be due to poor Steel used during production in Spain) and the numbers involved thanks to the slump in Diesel sales meant there wasn't justification in investing in a whole new production line in the UK.

Renault have a major share in Nissan, so any EU-specific manufacturing could be done by using excess capacity in Renault factories rather than the factory in the UK. Which serves the purpose of placating the French Car Worker Unions. It seems the lack of employee rights in the UK might eventually backfire.

Toyota in Derbyshire are also drawing back production, apparently only making one model there at the moment. Avensis and Auris production ended in 2018 with nothing on the horizon to fill the gap.

So again, bye-bye jobs.

Jaguar/Land-Rover, owned by the Indian Tata company are not having a good time of it either. The big, heavy cars rely mostly on diesel engines to stay economical, but the diesel fiasco has killed their sales. Jaguar are starting to invest in Electric and the I-Pace SUV seems to be well received. Hopefully that technology can be rolled out to the rest of the Tata-owned range and help recover losses in sales.

So, given the mismanagement around Diesel engines, air quality standards, mixed up tax regimes, the jump to non-fossil fuels by 2040 and now the trade deal with Japan, do you think that the EU has the best interest of UK automotive jobs at heart? With the removal of tariffs, there are a number of jobs in Eastern Europe at risk too. Job reductions have already been announced on the continent too, so it's not purely a UK/Brexit thing.

The EU is not benign. It favours German and French Automotive companies (as witnessed by the disinclination to punish German car makers for DieselGate).  Other companies outside the Franco-German core fight for existence, relatively unprotected by EU beaurocrats.

Luckily the UK is at the forefront of automotive technology. Hopefully we can leverage our expertise in automotive racing and combine it with our production experience to produce better electric cars for future markets.